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Bavarian Soviet Republic
The Bavarian Soviet Republic, also known as the Munich Soviet Republic was a short-lived government established after the assassination of the socialist Jewish Bavarian prime minister Kurt Eisner. It sought to replace the fledgling Weimar Republic in its early days. Its capital was Munich.
On 7 November 1918, the anniversary of the Russian October Revolution, Kurt Eisner of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) declared Bavaria a "free state" – a declaration which overthrew the monarchy of the Wittelsbach dynasty which had ruled for over 700 years. Eisner became Minister-President of Bavaria. Though he advocated a "socialist republic", he distanced himself from the Russian Bolsheviks, declaring that his government would protect property rights. For a few days, the Munich economist Lujo Brentano served as Minister of Trade (Volkskommissar für Handel).
After Eisner's USPD had lost the elections, he decided to resign from his office. On 21 February 1919, as he was on his way to parliament to announce his resignation, he was shot by Anton Graf Arco-Valley, who was rejected from membership in the Thule Society because of Jewish ancestry on his mother's side. This assassination caused unrest and lawlessness in Bavaria, and the news of a Communist revolution in Hungary encouraged communists and anarchists to seize power.
Politics of the Soviet Republic
On 6 April, a Soviet Republic was formally proclaimed. Initially, it was ruled by USPD members such as Ernst Toller, and anarchists like Gustav Landauer and Erich Mühsam. However, Toller, a playwright, was not very good at dealing with politics, and his government did little to restore order in Munich.
His government members were also not always well-chosen. For instance, the Foreign Affairs Deputy (who had been admitted several times to psychiatric hospitals), declared war on Switzerland over the Swiss refusal to lend 60 locomotives to the Soviet Republic. As such, the regime collapsed within six days, being replaced by the Communist Party, with Eugen Levine, sometimes characterized as a "potential German Lenin", as their leader.
Levine began to enact Communist reforms, which included expropriating luxurious apartments and giving them to the homeless and placing factories under the ownership and control of their workers. Levine also had plans to abolish paper money and reform the education system.
Levine refused to collaborate with the regular army of the city, and also organized his own army, the Red Army (Rote Armee) under Rudolf Egelhofer, similar to the Red Army of Soviet Russia. In order to support the revolutionary government, thousands of unemployed workers volunteered; soon the ranks of the Rote Armee reached 20,000. The Red Guards began arresting suspected counterrevolutionaries and on 29 April 1919, eight men, including the well-connected Prince Gustav von Thurn and Taxis, were accused as right-wing spies and executed. The Thule Society's secretary, Countess Hella von Westarp, was also murdered.
Soon after, on 3 May 1919, the German army (called the "White Guards of Capitalism" by the Communists), having a force of 9,000, and the Freikorps, having a force of 30,000 men, entered Munich and defeated the Communists, after bitter street fights in which over 1,000 volunteer supporters of the government were killed. About 700 men and women were arrested and executed by the victorious Freikorps. Levine was condemned to death for treason.